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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #74

This is the seventy-fourth in a series of examinations of comic book urban legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous seventy-three. Click here for a similar archive, only arranged by subject.

Let’s begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Seaworld once had a DC Superhero water skiing feature.

STATUS: True

It may be hard to imagine Batman water skiing (although our pal H had a whole bit on an issue of Brave and the Bold where Batman does just that, including the following pic:BB83Water Follies.jpg).

But in the late 70s, that’s just what happened!

heroe2_edited.jpg

SeaWorld had a water skiing/speedboat feature starring DC superheroes, including Batman, Batgirl, Supergirl, Wonder Woman, Joker and Penguin!

Here’s an ad they had in the comics of the day:

waterski.jpg

Here are some more pics, courtesy of the nostalgia site, Plaid Stallions.

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That’s DC Comic President Sol Harrison in the photo.

heroes3_edited.jpg

Pretty groovy, no?

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: DC produced comics for the CIA.

STATUS: False

A reader e-mailed me this question, and I just laughed at first, as it seemed silly – the CIA making a comic book? However, while there was no involvement from any comic book companies, I was surprised to learn that the CIA did, in fact, produce comic book-style manuals for use in Nicaragua in the early 1980s, to destabilize the Nicaraguan government.

Thanks to Crapaganda, here are examples from the actual “Sabotage Manual” (as it came to be referred to as) from Nicaragua in the 80s.

xcia01.jpg

Notice how effective this depiction of how to knock down telephone wires is!

xcia13.jpg

Drop typewriters!!!

xcia05.jpg

And you actually can blow a fuse by putting a small coin in the socket!

xcia06.jpg

So there you go, the CIA sure knew how to effectively use comic books to destabilize a government, but they did it on their own, they didn’t have any help from any comic book company.

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Steve Skeates once had to change The Question’s dialogue by a rather odd decision by Steve Ditko.

STATUS: True

You can thank super Question fan, Eric Newsom, for this one, as he sent it in courtesy of his excellent fansite devoted to all things The Question, vicsage.com.

He featured it on his site here.

In any event, it detailed the first (and only) time Steve Skeates scripted a Question story, and it took place in Blue Beetle #4.

1786_4_4.jpg

Ditko and I very rarely had any personal contact at all! Still, a rather interesting happenstance did occur when I scripted my one and only QUESTION episode (the one I wrote under the pen-name Warren Savin — “Kill Vic Sage!” it was called!)! I did a bit of dialogue in which The Question says to the villain of the piece “Now listen, my friend –” and therefore received a six-page letter from Steve detailing why the Question would never call a criminal “friend,” and even if he meant it sarcastically, why sarcasm was somehow beneath The Question!

This was a rather daunting and even rather scary letter for someone who was essentially still a “green kid” writingwise to receive, to say the least! The offending “friend” reference was of course removed from the finished product — in fact, one can still see where that reference originally was, seeing as there’s one balloon in that story that strangely has a larger than usual amount of empty white space in it!!

Here is the panel in question!

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Pretty awesome, no?

Well, that’s it for this week, thanks for stopping by!

Feel free to drop off any urban legends you’d like to see featured!

38 Comments

That water skiing Joker is awesome.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

October 27, 2006 at 2:06 am

Steve Dikto is so whacky he should get his own reality TV show.

(honestly, they give them all to boring celbrity wannabes. Give it to Dikto, and half the show would be him throwing stuff at the camera and refusing to talk to them. Ratings Gold!)

Sabotage comics is most disturbing, comics should always be used as a force for good not evil.

‘Evil comics’

Now that sounds like a gimme idea.

Not too long ago, there was a bit of an uproar down here in AZ because the Mexican government was producing comic books to show illegal immigrants how to get into the U.S. and fit in without getting caught. The CIA is not the only organization who can do it! Did that make big national news? Here, of course, it was the big story for a while.

What character is that supposed to be standing on Flash and Aquaman’s shoulders? The woman to her right is meant to be Black Canary, I suppose, but I’m stumped on that one. . .

Tony– According to my memory of my old copy of AMAZING WORLD OF DC COMICS where those pics were originally published, that was supposed to be Mera.

Greg

I can’t believe I suppressed this memory but I saw the water skiing show as a kid. I might have this mixed up with something else but I’m pretty sure there was a magic act involved in the show. At one point Aquaman’s wife or girlfriend (I think that might be the character Tony was wondering about) was put in one of the magic boxes that split into three sections so it looks like the person inside has been cut to pieces. I can’t remember much but I assume everything turned out well.

Yeah, it is supposed to be Mera (Mera?!?!?), which I guess makes sense, with it being on water and all.

I guess.

-Brian

I remember seeing that water show when I was a kid. I’m pretty sure I still have my suviners (sp?) from back then. I’ll have to go thru my stuff & see if I can find them. I also remember going to a play that starred Bugs Bunny & his gang along with Batman & Robin & possibly other heroes. I was really young then & may have it mixed up some what. Anyone else recall anything like that? It would have been about 27 or 28 years ago.

I think you’re right about magic at the ski show, Mark. I saw it at Sea World in Ohio when I was a kid. All I have are vague memories of being scared. It had to have been the first time I’d seen “live” super heroes “fighting”.

I think we were close enough to get a little wet, which, looking back, is probably pretty disgusting. Who knows what was in that water?

I may have pictures somewhere. I’ll look around.

That is one ugly Batman costume, I must say.

Chazz,
You’re not messing anything up. I just read about the Bugs Bunny meets the Superheroes show in Twomorrow Press’s Back Issue magazine. Apparently, there were a series of them about when you said you’d seen one.

They sure were inventive about crossovers and merchandizing their products in other media back then, eh?

I remember the waterski ads in the back of the comics of course, but they actually published the picture of the superheroes waterskiing in pyramid formation in the Travel section of the Toronto Star (this would be in ’78 or ’79 I suppose) and from that point on I wanted to go to Sea World. (There was also a colour version in a travel brochure at the local supermarket to remind me). Of course, my parents weren’t nearly so captivated with the idea of going to Florida just to satisfy my need to see live-action superheroes.

Eventually, we did go to Florida in ’81 and we went to Sea World. And they had a waterskiing show, only it was the Hatfields and the McCoys by then. I was unbelievably disappointed.

Is it true that John Byrne turned the Vision white so that he and the Scarlet Witch would resemble Caspar and Wendy?

Credit where it’s due (or not):

Carmine Infantino takes credit for plotting Bat-Lash, the story of the first Superman movie and creating Kamandi, among other dubious claims. Can you determine the accuracy of these?

Also: Neal Adams and Roy Thomas dispute who plotted the Kree/Skrull war, which actually began before Adams took over as Avengers artist. Adams also says that he was offered any Marvel book he wanted when he took over X-Men in the late ’60s. ANY book? Even Kirby’s FF?

If there are any other claims which seem suspicious to you, please mention them too!

I saw the DC SuperHeroes water ski show, as performed at Sea World in Florida.

Not shown in the pictures are the actors playing Lois Lane and Perry White, along with several others.

Since seeing people (even in costumes) being dragged by a boat gets repetitive, part of the show actually took place on a stage. This is where the Joker would try to make Batgirl disappear (via a magician’s trick) and other such things. The Joker, as lead villian, did not do any waterskiing. The Penguin is also shown in that photo, while the Riddler and Catwoman are not shown.

There was also a BatBoat in the show, and Lois and Perry were played for comedy, being dragged behind it.

In addition, in his only live action appearance before the recent episodes of SMALLVILLE. an actor playing Green Arrow did a high dive into a bullseye. That’s him directly above the Joker.

Also note one thing in the Pyramid. All the costumes are lacking footwear. You can also see Aquaman’s wife Mera, in her only live appearance in the pyramid shot.

Oddly enough, the least used hero in the show was Superman.

Mike Curtis
Formerly of COMICS OBSCURA

A potential Urban Legend (to which I already know the answer, but it might make for a fun column): was the Masters of the Universe movie a thinly veiled take on Jack Kirby’s “New Gods” stories?

Chazz-

Burned into my memory is the night my family and I walked up to our local arena only to be told THE BUGS BUNNY FOLLIES was sold out! I was crushed because if my memory was right it wasn’t just any superheroes but THE Batman and Robin, Adam West and Burt Ward!! I’m thinking this was 1975 or 76…..

Holy Flashback Batman!

I hadn’t thought of those water skiing super heroes for years! I remember my Aunt Betty Anne McCormack (we called her “Aunt BAM”) took my siter and I and two cousins to Florida, and we HAD to go to Sea World to see the water skiing super-heroes!!

Thanks for the wacky flashback, BC!

When Crossgen was a going concern, the owner of Crossgen and the writers claimed that “a bible” existed for their fictional universe that outlined the overarching storylines for their company and their characters. Obviously, most of the storylines will never be completed as the company is now defunct. Is there anyplace to find out what was contained in this “bible” or what might have been the intended conclusions of their storylines? Not really an urban legend more just a question.

is there a story behind the lack of trade paperback collections of the abnett/lanning/coipel legion from a few years ago? i understand that the present day focus is on waid’s legion but i thought i once read paul levitz has a certain “stance” on the DnA/coipel (focusing on coipel if i remember what i read correctly) legion. i believe the DnA run did have some TPB’s published after coipel left the book. it seems odd that the legion lost min-series never got collected nor did the first storyline from the then new legion ongoing both with coipel on art.

I saw the Sea World show as a kid. I remember it well. It was a real treat. It did include magic acts as well. I remember being very scared when the Joker and the Penguin ran through the audience during a magic trick. But Batman and Robin weren’t far behind.

I don’t remember the costumes looking so cheesy. To me, it was the real deal. Pretty amazing to see the pictures now.

Yep! I have fond memories of both the Sea World event and the Bugs Bunny show… both things I remember that my dad took me to. The magic show was a weird thing to see as a kid. It sort of freaked me out.

I love seeing these pictures now! It would be fun to see a filming of the event for nostaglic purposes… sort of like the old Mego commercials.

Scott

I don’t think it was an odd decision from Ditko, and when you have read some of Ditko’s Question. You know that Vic would never call a criminal a friend, so im on Ditko’s side here.

A CIA produced propaganda comic book air dropped over Grenada after we invaded.

http://www.ep.tc/grenada/

This was done by Malcolm Ater’s Commercial Comics Company. The CIA paid him 35k. In cash.
I recognise the artist from 60′s – 70′s era Dell type stuff but don’t know exactly who it is. Jack Sparling, maybe?

I also saw the DC Heroes water skiing show at Sea World in Auroura Ohio in the late 70′s. It was one of the most awesome parts of the whole day. I remember in one part of the story the Joker was trying to use a contraption called the “swiss cheese hole maker” to kill Batman. The photo above of the pyramid stunt brought back memories. I belive my mom still has some old 8 mm home movies of that trip including the skiing show with a shot very similar to that photo.

I would never have recognized Aquaman or Mera from that photo.

I’m really enjoying this site!

I love the comment “It may be hard to imagine Batman water skiing”. That’s not the only water ski show to include Batman!

In Northern California there was a theme park similar to Sea World called Marine World. Originally, the place was strictly animal shows (plus the ski show and an acrobat show) with some elements of a zoo/aquarium (a giraffe habitat, a shark enclosure, etc.). Their original water ski show, as I remember it, was a spoof of old detective stories and film noir. When Six Flags bought the park (circa ’99), they changed it to a Batman flavored show — based on Batman Forever, no less. That water ski show was operating until just a few years ago. I’m told that a Six Flags in Ohio also had the same show.

ParanoidObsessive

November 10, 2008 at 9:55 pm

>>> Sabotage comics is most disturbing, comics should always be used as a force for good not evil.

Well, depending on who you’re sabotaging, one could make an argument that sabotage itself is good. The various Resistance groups in France during WWII who went out of their way to sabotage Nazi operations would almost certainly consider their actions to be a war of good versus evil, with them clearly on the side of good.

The problem with politics (and history) is that one man’s freedom fighter is often someone else’s terrorist.

I actually was able to see at least part of that DC heroes’ show when I was at Seaworld as a three-year-old, and I still remember the announcer saying, “Don’t laugh yet, Joker!”

Tearing down telephone wires more or less by hand seems like a good way to get electrocuted.

I’m impressed with the accuracy of the memories of those who saw the Sea World show more than 30 years ago!

I am posting an oral history of that show – way more posts than I was expecting to do, but it was so fun – at http://noblemania.blogspot.com/2011/08/super-70s-and-80s-sea-world-superheroes.html.

This includes interviews with the skiers themselves (plus production staff) and loads of rare, previously unpublished candid photos.

Skier interviews begin here: http://noblemania.blogspot.com/2011/09/super-70s-and-80s-sea-world-superheroes.html.

Oh, and Chazz and Sterg, on the off chance you’re getting email alerts about responses to this post: the Bugs Bunny Meets the Superheroes show is one of the other shows I will be covering in this blog series. Those posts begin posting 9/27/11.

I remember the Sea Worlds ads in the comics, but never went to Sea World to see it. Even as a kid, superheroes doing water skiing didn’t sound any better than superheroes on ice (ice-skating, that is).

Timothy Markin

July 31, 2012 at 6:07 am

I saw the waterskiing show in August of 1977 (at age nine) at Seaworld in Aurora OH, but the only memory I have, other than just being there is the sale of Famous First Editions by vendors walking through the audience. My parents bought the Batman #1 reprint since I was a huge Batman fan (and still am). My memories of that comic are more vivid than the watershow itself.

What an amazing water-ski show! I wish I could see it.

does anyone remember a 1970′s batman comic where atom has to enter his ear to save his lif after he gets electrocuted on a powerpole?if so is it worth anything?good condition

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